Singing About Jesus’ Blood Is Weird, But We Do It Anyway

Even if Elevation’s Easter invites don’t spotlight the Crucifixion, it remains central to their worship.

I still remember the crunchy, dissonant chords coming through the speakers of my music history classroom and the repetition of the phrase, “Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?”

We were studying Charles Ives’s modern American art song about the founder of the Salvation Army—“General William Booth Enters into Heaven”—and even as I tried to navigate the cacophonous chords and angular vocal lines in my score, I found the language and themes familiar and meaningful.

But the clarinet player sitting next to me had a different reaction. He leaned over and whispered, “Gross.”

Those of us who have grown up in the church singing songs like “There Is a Fountain,” “Nothing but the Blood,” and “The Wonderful Cross” are used to singing about blood. Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection are the center of our faith, and the blood spilled from the body of God incarnate is a symbol and physical reality for those who believe.

So when Elevation Church opted to avoid words or phrases like blood of Jesus in promotional materials for this year’s Easter services, a chorus of online voices accused the megachurch and its pastor, Steven Furtick, of watering down the gospel.

“We’re not going to use the words Calvary, resurrection, or the phrase the blood of Jesus. We won’t use language that will immediately make someone feel like an outsider,” said Nicki Shearer, Elevation’s digital content creator, in an interview with Pro Church Tools.

“If you talk to someone who doesn’t know Christ, they are never going to use the word resurrection … Jesus came back to life again after dying for us. I’d rather …

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